CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Three new Bradley County Fire & Rescue stations will go into service at 8 a.m. Monday, officials announced Friday at a grand opening ceremony at the Hopewell station.
"When you take the buildings that have been built, the equipment that has been purchased and the training that's gone on, we've done everything we can to be as ready as we possibly can be," Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said.
The new fire stations -- at Minnis Road, Dalton Pike and Georgetown Road -- will assume service for fringe areas just outside Cleveland city limits that now are protected by the Cleveland Fire Department under an agreement between the county and city.
To bring the new stations up to operational status, six firefighting vehicles were purchased and 41 firefighters hired by Bradley County Fire & Rescue, officials said. The cost of the new stations and their complements of vehicles amounted to a $3 million investment for the county. The base salary for a full-time firefighter is $24,000.
The county paid $1.8 million annually for Cleveland fire protection services for the fringe areas, except for the last year of service, which has been estimated to cost between $1 million and $1.2 million.
The city and county failed to reach an agreement after a 2011 proposal to merge Bradley County and Cleveland fire departments. Bradley County Fire & Rescue received approval to launch the new stations a year ago.
"It was a challenge," interim Fire Chief Troy Spence said about finishing all the preparations before the July 1 deadline.
Spence -- who is director for Bradley County Emergency Medical Services and served 27 years as a volunteer firefighter -- was given interim command of Bradley County Fire & Rescue after Fire Chief Dewey Woody resigned in October to direct the arson and bomb section of the state Fire Marshal's Office. A permanent replacement has not been named.
During the event, Bradley County Fire & Rescue dedicated Fire Engine 13 to Emary Bryant, Bradley County's first fire chief.
"His dedication and his efforts in the 1960s and early 1970s have led to what we see here today," said Richard Taylor, area coordinator for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
Bryant was responsible for developing the fire department's roots, Taylor said. He also established a number of awards to recognize exemplary firefighters and raised donations for the county's first set of Jaws of Life life-saving equipment through a radio call-in broadcast.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.